Author Topic: Cubase vs Logic Audio vs Cakewalk Pro Audio (Feb 1997, article)  (Read 48 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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STEINBERG CUBASE
• EMAGIC LOGIC AUDIO
• CAKEWALK MUSIC SOFTWARE CAKEWALK PRO AUDIO
 

Last year saw the proliferation of reliable, fully-featured MIDI + Audio sequencers for the IBM-compatible PC -- packages which were previously the preserve of the Apple Macintosh platform. JANET HARNIMAN COOK takes a look at the three top PC programs in the field to see how their facilities compare.
 

In retrospect, 1996 should be remembered as the year when PC MIDI + Audio sequencing came of age -- a dream come true for the PC-based studio musician. Now, with the aid of these high-quality, low-cost applications, PC musicians can record and edit multiport MIDI and multitrack digital audio side by side on a single screen. The pace of development shows no sign of slowing down, either: faster Pentium processors and the new generation of Windows 95 MIDI + Audio applications should continue to revolutionise modern music production, both in the home and in the professional studio. In this article -- designed to mirror Mike Collins' overview of Macintosh MIDI + Audio sequencers, which appeared in SOS December '95 -- I will be giving a brief overview of the capabilities of three PC MIDI + Audio sequencers -- Steinberg's Cubase, Cakewalk Music Software's Cakewalk Pro Audio and Emagic's Logic Audio. These three applications are the current cream of the crop, and their advanced features will no doubt define those we will see in the PC music systems of the near future.

IN BRIEF
• STEINBERG CUBASE
Cubase is the best-known and most widely-used sequencer in Europe, and has been the powerhouse behind innumerable chart, soundtrack and dance successes throughout the '90s. Originally written for the Atari ST, the leading edge of Cubase development is now on the Apple Macintosh. Cubase Audio for PC initially only supported the Yamaha CBX HDR system until early 1996, when version 1.6 for Windows soundcards was released. Unlike Cakewalk, which exists in just one form, Cubase is marketed as a trio of specialised packages. All the Cubase v3 range offer the same MIDI + Audio recording and editing facilities as the 'vanilla' Cubase package (£329). Enhanced, advanced DTP manuscript origination facilities are available in Cubase Score (£499) and these are complemented by support for Digidesign Session 8 and Yamaha CBX in Cubase Audio XT (£699).

• EMAGIC LOGIC AUDIO
Logic Audio is the best-selling Macintosh MIDI + Audio sequencer throughout Europe, and is a favourite of many of the recording elite (for example programmer extraordinaire Pete Gleadall, interviewed in SOS December '96). Logic Audio v2.5 for Windows 95 entered the market in summer 1996, and the latest version (2.5.3) costs £399. The recently-released Logic Audio Discovery (£269) is essentially the same as version 2.5.3, but has fewer score and time/pitch compression-expansion facilities.

• CAKEWALK MUSIC SOFTWARE CAKEWALK PRO AUDIO
The first MIDI + Audio sequencer to use PC soundcards was Cakewalk Pro Audio v.4. Cakewalk originated on the PC in the dark days of DOS, and its successor, Cakewalk for Windows v3.1, was the first program to be capable of true commercial-quality MIDI recording on the PC. The current version, Cakewalk Pro Audio v5 (£329), is a 32-bit native Windows 95 application. In the USA, Cakewalk Pro Audio is the market leader in MIDI + Audio sequencing on the PC.

CHOOSING A PACKAGE
All three of these applications are excellent modern music recording tools. Hardware mismatches aside, such strengths and failings as they exhibit lie in the detail rather than in overall function. Which one you choose will depend to a great extent on your individual preferences and needs. If you have external hard disk recording hardware, such as Soundscape, Digidesign Session 8 and Yamaha CBX systems, you will be limited by the current support provided by each application. Of the three, only Cakewalk Pro Audio v5 supports all three systems; Cubase Audio XT supports Session 8 and CBX. Logic Audio does not yet support any of them, but I am assured that Emagic are in the process of developing extensions for CBX, Soundscape and the Akai DR8. All three MIDI + Audio applications support the Digidesign Audiomedia III card. Multiple Windows soundcards are not (yet) supported, and solo soundcard support is surprisingly uneven, with Cakewalk Pro Audio again proving the most accommodating. A further consideration is that if you have used a specific MIDI sequencer, getting to know the MIDI + Audio version will require far less time than learning an unfamiliar package from scratch.

This article will take a look at how well this complex and innovative technology works in practice. The points of comparison under consideration are as follows:

• Hardware Compatibility
• Ease of Learning (manuals, help, tutorials)
• Quality of User Interface (look, feel and ease of use)
• Global Control (song structure editing, tempo control, mixing, automation)
• MIDI Editing
• Audio (including recording, editing and DSP functions)

STEINBERG CUBASE v3.03
• FEATURES & COMPATIBILITY
Cubase is not yet available in true 32-bit format, and version 3.03 is a 16-bit application for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. Cubase v3.03 provides up to eight stereo tracks of digital audio and 64 tracks of MIDI. Audio multitrack capability is determined by the specification of the PC used to run the application. Cubase played eight stereo tracks on both the Multisound Classic and Pinnacle cards, and recording proved straightforward for both cards. When changing between analogue and digital on the Pinnacle, it is best to configure the card before altering Cubase audio hardware settings.

• EASE OF LEARNING
Cubase is very user-friendly, and beginners should achieve results quickly. This is a powerful piece of software, and is fast and enjoyable to use. Most frequently-used facilities are readily accessible, yet beneath the surface is extraordinary depth. It is the transparency of Cubase's user interface -- its ease of use combined with the superb graphic layout -- that encourages musical creativity, and has persuaded many long-term Atari users (including me) to take the leap to sequencing on the PC.

The well-presented Cubase package contains a CD-ROM, the copy protection dongle and four manuals. The manuals (entitled Getting Started, Getting into the Details, Modules and Audio) are clearly written, with good indexes, and contain around 500 pages. An additional booklet with advanced score techniques is included in the Cubase Score and Cubase Audio XT packages. The CD-ROM features an extensive range of high-quality multimedia tutorials and the installation software for Cubase and WaveLab Lite, its companion audio editor.

• USER INTERFACE
The first version of Cubase appeared in 1989, and defined the page layout adopted by Logic, Cakewalk and most modern sequencers. The Arrange window is the main Cubase work space, and displays the overall structure of your piece. The layout is analogous to that of a multitrack tape recorder: tracks are arranged vertically and contain MIDI data displayed as parts across the horizontal time axis.

If you are gazing at a screen for hours, a well thought-out, colourful graphic environment can help reduce fatigue, and Cubase is the most graphically attractive of all three packages featured in this article. Colour is generally used well, but some screens are still very grey, and have changed little since the old Atari versions. Notepad facilities are rudimentary, with basic cut and paste editing, and text import from the Windows clipboard.

• GLOBAL CONTROL
Cubase is object- and menu-driven. Maximum resolution is 384 pulses per quarter note, or ppqn (1/1536 whole note) with options for 96 and 192 ppqn. Most edit and file activities can be done on the fly, and Drag and Drop editing is common to all graphic views. In practice, I have found a combination of keyboard commands and mouse to be the fastest means of getting around. In Logic Audio and Cakewalk, global parameter definition is common to the whole track. But in Cubase, the constituent sequences of each track have their own Part Inspector. This Inspector enables basic instrument parameters to be quickly set up, and includes velocity, pan, offsets and dynamics for each part. This is fabulous, but it would be even better if effects and user-defined controllers were included. Installing the Studio module adds instrument patch names to the Inspector, and provides simple voice editing for some common synths in the way that Steinberg Satellite did on the Atari ST.

When building a piece, you often need to change the order of the verses, chorus, breaks and bridges until the structure feels right. Cubase provides a good range of cut, paste and copy functions to make song structure editing painless. And as each song may contain as many Arrange windows as you need, you have the freedom to quickly switch between multiple versions. Oddly, Cubase does not have markers. The locator sets are easy to program, but they only recall position, and have no text association. So to distinguish song sections in the Arrange page, there is little choice but to create a dummy track and use its part names as marker labels. I would like to see a Markers area that displays section names or cues, as is found in both Logic and Cakewalk.

The MIDI Mixer is a user-configurable virtual multitrack mixer, and provides the means to automate your mix and to record MIDI controller changes in real time (although audio events cannot be entered from the mixer). Configuring the mixer is rather long-winded, even though Steinberg have included a selection of mix templates.

The Cubase tempo and time signature editor is the Master Track. Tempo changes can be viewed as a list or graphically, and there are sophisticated tempo scaling features. Tracks can also be time-locked: with this feature, tracks may run at different tempi even whilst crossfading. Events on locked tracks remain at the same time position and stay in sync regardless of the tempo changes affecting MIDI -- useful for voice-over and sound effect placement.

• MIDI EDITING
Cubase has excellent MIDI control, and its editors are rich in information. MIDI can be edited as a table of events in the List editor, or as standard notation in the Score editor. Cubase Score has the best scoring and manuscript editing features found in any sequencer, and will produce professional, DTP-ready results.

The Key editor displays notes on a piano roll grid with MIDI controller information graphically displayed beneath. Only a single type of controller information can be displayed, although it is possible to open several Key edit screens of the same part, with each showing a different controller. In practice, this is not a great hindrance, but an option showing multiple controllers (like Logic's Hyper editor) would be a more elegant solution. However, colour is used well in Cubase's Key editor; colour sets can be assigned to channel, velocity, and pitch events.

Audio and drum parts have specialised editors in Cubase, and changes based on mathematical criteria can be made in the Logical editor. The Cubase Drum editor is probably the best on the planet, and it is easy to build your own super kit using mapped drum voices from many instruments. It is a pity that a maximum of nine bars can be displayed without losing the drum voice list. There is also a useful General MIDI editor, which caters for Roland GS and Yamaha XG extended formats.

The IPS (or Interactive Phrase Synthesizer) is an interactive super arpeggiator and a useful composition aid. The Styles module is more conventional, and provides auto-accompaniment type features. On those days when the ideas aren't flowing, Styles may do the trick.

• AUDIO
Audio recording is straightforward. Tracks can include mono and stereo parts but all parts in a song share a common sample rate. When recording multiple takes, Cubase automatically creates and names a new soundfile for each take. Parts are edited on the Arrange page in much the same way as MIDI, and double-clicking on an audio part opens the Audio Editor. If the Track is set to 'Any', all audio channels can be viewed together. Audio is displayed as a waveform and each event has Start and End Inset handles that can be used to quickly trim audio -- a quick fix which is handy for simple cut and paste edits. Volume and pan curves can be drawn in the Audio editor. Channels are monophonic, and events with overlapping times cause channel-defeating if set to play back on the same channel. This means that the first audio event will play through to its end point, and until playback stops, any events starting later will be muted.

Cubase does not have an onboard sample-accurate graphical audio editor, but includes a link to a designated external wave editor. Cubase is bundled with WaveLab Lite, but can be used with any other editor, such as the full version of WaveLab or Sound Forge. A serious complaint is the lack of track sequence EDL (Edit Decision List): there is no simple method of viewing the sequence of audio events in each Track, and audio events are curiously not included in the List editor.

The Audio Pool is the sound file manager, and contains a list of the root sound files and the derived regions or segments that form the play sequences for each audio Track. Sound files can be imported into the Audio Pool in PC WAV or Mac AIFF formats, and segments are added to the Arrange window by drag and drop. The Audio Pool also contains basic wave editing facilities, including Normalise, Reverse, Varispeed, Erase Unused (condense sound file) and resample/time domain functions.

info
£ Cubase £329; Cubase Score £499; Cubase Audio XT £699.

A Harman Audio, Unit 2, Borehamwood Industrial Park, Rowley Lane, Borehamwood. Herts WD6 5PZ, UK.

T +44 (0)181 207 5050.

F +44 (0)181 207 4572.

 

EMAGIC LOGIC AUDIO v2.5.3
• FEATURES & COMPATIBILITY
Logic Audio v2.5.3 is a Windows 95 application, and will not run on Windows 3.1n. Logic Audio can be very, very fussy about Windows soundcards, so it's advisable to check with both Emagic and your soundcard importer to confirm compatibility. Certain mice, including those by Logitec, are incompatible when used in-line with the Logic copy protection dongle and should be moved to a free PC Comm port. I'm also informed that certain PC motherboards and/or chipsets may not be compatible with Logic Audio systems that rely on Digidesign's Audiomedia III card.

Logic Audio offers unlimited MIDI tracks, and eight or 16 audio tracks, depending on your recording hardware. Only a single sample rate can be used for each song, and stereo recordings occupy two tracks; stereo files imported from CD-ROM or hard drive are split and re-recorded to two discrete new soundfiles, which stay together automatically.

The Multisound Classic soundcard in the reference PC played and recorded eight audio tracks, and Logic Audio recognised the analogue and digital audio ports on the Pinnacle card. Both soundcards' MIDI ports and the MQX32-m MIDI interface used in the reference PC appeared automatically in the Logic ports list, and I experienced none of the problems mentioned by Paul White in his recent review (see SOS November 1996). The only major problem was that the pickup and release of audio tracks in the Arrange page was delayed, sometimes by up to four seconds! This was at its worst in cycle mode, and made accurate positioning of audio very difficult indeed; I think the cause must be a buffers problem. Emagic technical support was unable to help, but offered the consolation that no similar problems have been reported with Audiomedia III. Similarly, in Hyper Draw, there was a 2.4-second offset between audio volume controller entries and their implementation.

• EASE OF LEARNING
Newcomers may initially find Logic Audio rather daunting, but it is a wonderfully-equipped and very classy application with most of the commonly-used functions very close to hand. For example, transpose, quantise, looping, copying and moving can all be done in the Arrange page without having to sift through menus. The bulky ring-bound 600-page manual includes an audio section, and it is for the most part comprehensive, well indexed and clearly laid out, but the absence of Windows on-line Help, the bareness of the factory default setup, and the apparent complexity of Logic's Environment create a less than friendly welcome. If ever a program needed a CD-ROM multimedia demo, this is it!

• USER INTERFACE
Logic has a pleasant, slightly quirky feel to it, but is very stable, and inspires confidence because of its low crash rate. Screens are generally clear and well laid out, although more colour would be welcome, as would better fonts. Screen redraws are usually fast, but sometimes proved sluggish in the Sample editor.

Getting around Logic is quick and easy, with excellent markers that carry through to the editors (Cakewalk markers are only visible on the Arrange page, and Cubase, as we have seen, does not implement markers at all). To help you get up to speed, a huge range of user-definable keyboard and MIDI remotes are included. Logic Audio also wins plenty of brownie points for its innovative screensets, which allow you to store and recall up to 90 different screen layouts. This is essential if you have a small screen, and because Logic allows you to open the same window more than once, you could create a screenset showing the Arrange overview of the whole song, with another Arrange window zoomed-in on a 4-bar section. Clever linking means that open windows can all stay in sync with each other if required.

• GLOBAL CONTROL
Common activities, like saving to disk and editing, can be carried out in real time, with the MIDI Resolution fixed at 960ppqn. Logic Audio does not address the ports of your MIDI interface directly from the Arrange page, but does so through virtual instruments in the Environment. These act like junction boxes, and define the MIDI signal path between the MIDI Out data in track sequences and the PC's physical MIDI Out ports. Multi-instruments also store patch names which may be imported from text files, or typed in. Ready-made Multi-instruments, complete with patch names, are supplied on the support disk for the more common instruments.

Virtual Environment objects also include Logic's internal MIDI effects modules (such as delay lines, arpeggiators and chord memorisers). Virtual faders may be used to control individual devices, or can be grouped to form an automated virtual mixing console. The Environment also provides the only access to instrument patch names; you can't automatically load in patch names from your synths. Like many other users, I found Logic's Environment rather badly explained in the manual, and although the concept is simple, its apparent complexity could cause confusion for the novice.

Most activity in Logic is focused on the Arrange screen, where each track has its own MIDI activity meter. The Track List contains track names, MIDI activity indicators and user-selectable instrument icons. Instrument and patch names are available from the Arrange page, providing you have created the appropriate Multi-instruments in the Environment.

Song structure editing in Logic Audio is fast, and uses the Windows cut and paste conventions. Logic Audio also has superb tempo editing, including custom tempo curve template creation and tempo scaling.

• MIDI EDITING
MIDI handling in Logic Audio is good, and editing is fast and enjoyable -- if Logic's Edit windows seem sparsely featured, they still work well. Logic has a range of editors, offering a number of event perspectives similar to those in Cubase and Cakewalk.

Logic's graphical editors make very little use of colour, and it is sometimes difficult to read event status information, especially in the Hyper editor window. The Hyper editor displays multiple controller types simultaneously, and is preferable to the single-controller displays found in Cubase and Cakewalk.

Controller data can be drawn directly onto sequences, as a series of envelope points, in the Arrange window using the Hyper Draw function. Hyper Edit also acts as the main Logic Audio drum editor, which performs well enough, but does not possess the versatility of its Cubase counterpart. Notation editing and printing is also not quite as well-featured as Cubase Score, but has the edge on Cakewalk.

• AUDIO
Audio data can easily be cut, pasted, copied, deleted and even mixed from Logic's Arrange page, and most of the MIDI editing tools also apply to audio. For example, a region may be divided using the Scissors tool. Audio regions may also be looped, and there's an automatic procedure for making the tempo of your MIDI data precisely match the length of an audio region. Volume and Pan information for each audio track may be recorded as a Hyper Draw sequence, though on an adjacent track rather than on the same one, but strangely, you can only switch the record status on and off by visiting the audio section in the Environment -- this is one function that really should be accessible from the Arrange page.

The Audio editor displays all the wave files used in the song, complete with constituent regions, length, anchor points and sample rate information. The Strip Silence function may be used to scan audio material, extract pauses and automatically create new regions, which is useful when separating different takes from a recording. Logic Audio also contains its own sample editor, where audio may be edited to single-sample accuracy. Unfortunately, it is not possible to scrub through digital audio material and locate exact cue points using a Windows soundcard -- if you require this, you must invest in a Digidesign Audiomedia III PCI card.

The Sample editor also contains the Factory, where a selection of very tasty DSP audio processing tools reside. The Audio Energiser uses a smart limiter algorithm to raise the perceived overall level of the audio without introducing distortion -- I used it on a complete mix and the results were excellent, with the processed audio sounding fuller and more punchy. The Silencer noise reduction module consists of two processors which may be used independently or together: Spike reduction reduces impulse disturbances such as clicks, while Noise reduction reduces hiss and other unwanted broad-bandwidth noise. Time-stretch and Pitch-shifting are processed by the Time Machine, and are capable of very good results if used with discretion. Other snazzy goodies include the Groove Machine, which lets you alter the swing or groove of the audio material, and the Audio-to-MIDI groove template function, which creates a MIDI groove template from rhythmic audio material. The Audio-to-Score Streamer will take a monophonic audio recording and derive a MIDI sequence from it, while the Quantise Engine allows you to apply a groove template to an audio sequence. This latter feature is very impressive, and isn't restricted to simple drum parts.

info
£ Emagic Logic Audio £399; Logic Audio Discovery £269.

A Sound Technology plc, Letchworth Point, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 1ND, UK.

T +44 (0)1462 480000.

F +44 (0)1462 480800.

 

CAKEWALK MUSIC SOFTWARE CAKEWALK PRO AUDIO v5
• FEATURES & COMPATIBILITY
Cakewalk Pro Audio ships on CD-ROM with version 5 for Windows 95 and version 4.5 for 16-bit Windows 3.1. There are 256 MIDI tracks and the number of audio tracks is limited only by the speed of the PC. A common sample rate must be used throughout a song. Cakewalk Pro Audio is also the least expensive of the three MIDI + Audio applications under scrutiny here, but offers the widest support for internal and audio hardware, including support for the Soundscape hard disk recording system.

• EASE OF LEARNING
Top marks! Cakewalk Music Software have made great efforts in Cakewalk Pro Audio v5 to help the new user get started. The Cakewalk CD-ROM includes a useful upbeat 7-part LotusCam multimedia tutorial that demonstrates the basic recording and editing techniques for MIDI and audio. The printed manual is conveniently sized and contains 402 pages: the information within is well presented, comprehensively indexed, and easy to read. This aid to getting started is further supplemented by very good on-line Help and Windows Tooltips. Cakewalk Pro Audio is easy to approach and would be an ideal introduction to MIDI + Audio sequencing.

• USER INTERFACE
Cakewalk has a well laid-out graphic interface and a good range of customisation options. The main Tracks page would not win prizes for its aesthetic merits, but it is clear and highly informative. Cakewalk Pro Audio does not hide basic instrument parameters in Inspector boxes, as do Logic Audio and Cubase. Both of these applications only permit track and patch names, MIDI parameters, port assignments, offsets and so on to be viewed one track at a time. In Cakewalk all of these parameters are visible at a glance from the Tracks page. Patch names derive from Instrument Definitions -- an onboard database which lets you select any voice, from any MIDI instrument in your rig, by name or program number. To help you get set up quickly, Cakewalk Pro Audio contains a large list of patch names for most common instruments. You can also easily create custom banks with the names of your own patches from within Cakewalk or by editing the instrument's INI file from your word processor. Setting up the record and playback parameters for each track can also be carried out from here.

• GLOBAL CONTROL
Cakewalk offers a choice of timing resolution, from 48 to 480ppqn, and features a 128-level Undo/Redo facility with an Edit History list. Both Logic and Cubase feature list and graphical editors for tempo editing, but Cakewalk only has a graphical tempo editor. This is great for drawing in curves, but a list-based tempo editor is often preferable, as it enables greater editing precision and can be quicker. Nor does Cakewalk have an auto-quantise option to quantise on the fly while recording MIDI -- a shame, as such an option can save time when recording drum parts from a MIDI keyboard, for example.

Mix automation is the domain of the Faders view, and this is where you find the virtual faders, knobs and switches that make up the Cakewalk virtual mixer. Whereas creating a Mixer page in Cubase usually means building mixer objects from scratch, in Cakewalk's Fader view they are automatically generated. You can edit the Fader objects, but it is hard to prevent the Faders view from appearing cluttered.

• MIDI EDITING
Most of Cakewalk's graphical editing screens are attractively designed, and generally its MIDI editing options are good, but the program does not have the depth and sophistication of features that both Cubase and Logic enjoy: the Drum editor, for example, lacks the facility to map drum voices from different sources. Controller editing also has one important shortcoming: events are displayed according to the channel on which they were originally recorded. Of course, parts created by cutting and pasting between tracks may have controllers from many different channels, so the lack of a View All Channels function can make editing difficult. There is also no way to remap MIDI controllers in real time, to enable you to enter MIDI volume messages from a keyboard modulation wheel, for example.

Staff view is a good basic score editor, and will display and print up to 24 staves with song lyrics and traditional expression and dynamics markings. Curiously, the Event List editor does not include an event filter to aid selection or exclude defined types of MIDI event from the edit move. The System Exclusive view is well specified, with a 256-bank SysEx librarian, and provides a good way of saving and loading your MIDI equipment configurations.

• AUDIO
Audio recording is simple and quick, and this makes Cakewalk a wonderful, easy-to-use songwriters' sketch pad -- you don't even have to name your audio files, unless you want to export them. Unfortunately, Cakewalk does not save its audio as ordinary WAV files, but uses a proprietary format instead. So if you want to process Cakewalk audio files in a dedicated editor like Sound Forge or WaveLab, you must first convert back to the Windows WAV format and then re-import the file back into your Cakewalk song after you have finished processing it. More cohesive audio editing is hinted at, as the Cakewalk Tools menu contains an as-yet-unimplemented link to Sound Forge. The Audio editor can display multiple tracks, and permits audio scrubbing. Supplementing the usual cut and paste options, there are simulated DSP tools, including graphic and parametric EQ, a noise gate, and normalisation, crossfade and fade envelope editing options. During playback, MIDI volume and pan controller messages can be used to control audio events, but real-time MIDI control needs a fast PC processor. The forthcoming Waves Native Audio Pack for Windows 95 includes Cakewalk extensions, and a joint project is underway between Microsoft and Cakewalk Music Software to create a Windows audio plug-in specification.

info
£ Cakewalk Pro Audio £339 inc VAT.

A Et Cetera Distribution, Valley House, 2 Bradwood Court, St. Crispin Way, Haslingdon, Lancs BB4 4PW, UK.

T +44 (0)1706 228039.
Tech Support Line +44 (0)1706 219999.

F +44 (0)1706 222989.

 

Many thanks to Mark 'Pixie' Ward, my original Cubase guru.

 
REVIEW SETUP & SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
The reference PC is an Intel Pentium 100 with 256K pipeline burst cache, 32Mb of RAM, 2.2Gb EIDE hard drive space, Turtle Beach Multisound Classic & Pinnacle digital soundcards, and a 2Mb Trio+ PCI graphics card.

A note of caution: quoted minimum PC system requirements may be misleading. There is a world of difference between using a minimum-spec PC that stutters and crawls along, and a large, fast, well-configured machine. For the sake of your sanity, I recommend using at least a Pentium 100 with 24Mb of RAM, and a fast 1Gb EIDE or SCSI hard drive for MIDI + Audio applications. This said, to add a couple of tracks of audio to 10 of MIDI, you should get by with a 486 DX266 with 16Mb and PCI buss. A 17-inch or larger monitor should ideally be used to accommodate the detailed multi-screen environment favoured by MIDI + Audio applications. To optimise the PC for audio, it is essential to observe good working practices, and the most important of these is to keep your hard disk in pristine condition by defragmenting the drive after each session. For more on this, plus details of crash prevention and recovery regimes, see my article on surviving PC crashes in SOS December '96.

 

SYNCHRONISATION
MIDI + Audio sequencers have difficulty providing stable synchronisation of MIDI and audio when slaved to external devices such as ADAT, VTRs or analogue multitracks. The Cubase Audio manual has the following to say on the subject: "To avoid drift between audio and MIDI, we recommend you not to synchronise Cubase externally at all if possible". All three MIDI + Audio applications can act as the master clock source for other devices such as MTC-compatible recorders (eg. ADAT). Steinberg's ACI (ADAT Computer Interface) is a handy device that connects between the ADAT digital sync and transmits MIDI Machine Control (MMC) messages from the sequencer to provide control of transport functions. Only Cubase has Windows AVI video support, and allows MIDI and audio tracks to synchronise to picture.

 
SOME HANDY SOS REVIEWS & FEATURES
Cubase Logical editor (3-part series) — March-May '95.

Cubase Basics (4-part series) — September-December '95.

Cubase Score v2 for PC review — April '96.

Logic v2 for Windows review — August '95.

Logic Audio v2.5 for Mac review— February '96.

Logic Audio v2.5 for Windows review — November '96.

Cakewalk Pro Audio v4.01 review — June '96.

« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 12:10:04 PM by chrisNova777 »